Miles' Recovery Story
"In the mountains I found the serenity that drugs and alcohol could never provide" - Miles
Originally from Leicester but now live in London
I started drinking at the tender age of 13 or 14. We would all steal drinks from our parents drinks cabinets and get drunk at the local park. There wasn’t a lot to do in rural leicestershire so we would all get smashed or smoke weed.
I realised in my teenage years that alcohol and drugs allowed me to be the person I thought other people wanted me to be. Getting pissed, meant I could be an extrovert, the joker, the life and soul, the center of attention and the showman. This became my character in social situations. I realise now I’m very much an introvert.
I also developed an anxiety condition alongside PTSD triggered by a particularly horrific LSD experience. I soon realised that alcohol could be used to self medicate my darker emotions. Booze works wonders for a soul full of fear. And I was FULL of fear.
I went to Uni and drank like all students, to excess, but in my mind I was nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until I returned from a year of hedonistic excess in Australia that I noticed something had changed. A line had silently been crossed. I had left the path and had begun my decade long meander into alcoholism.
Sat back with my mates at the local pub, I noticed I drank much quicker than everyone else. I also noticed a sense of panic when the bell for last orders rang. Without hesitation I ordered two pints and 2 shots just to make sure I’d get pissed.
In the coming weeks I became aware that I found it really hard to stop drinking once I had started. Stopping after 1 or 2 beers seemed impossible. I put this down to a lack of will power or simply just enjoying being sociable. I’d often drink on my own, as a way of unwinding too. I did this without concern.
Over the next 10-15 years my drinking descended into addiction. Getting smashed on a Friday and Saturday became Friday Saturday and Sunday. Then it became Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Soon it was every night sometimes with or without drugs until the early hours of the morning. It didn’t matter if it was a night out or slumped on the couch I found a way to achieve oblivion as often as possible.
There was always a justification for drinking. An excuse invented by my addiction to get me alone with the bottle. I’d had a good day, I’d had a bad day, a stressful day, a successful day. Whatever kind of day it ended with 2 or 3 bottles of wine.
I hated the hangovers, I hated the shame. I hated the guilt. I hated spending every working day totally hungover. I hated opening my eyes and feeling ill. I hated the endless cycle of misery.
In the end I was unable to decide whether or not I drank. I was utterly powerless over alcohol. My addiction was at the wheel. Alcohol was now running the show.
Despite all the war stories, idiotic and dangerous behaviour nothing in particular made me stop. I just quietly ground to a halt. Utterly broken. Utterly beaten. Utterly numb. I was exhausted. I was done. I finally asked for help.
After a few little stumbles, my last drunk was on a flight back from NYC to London. I remember sitting on the curb near Heathrow airport, shaking, sweating and chain smoking thinking NO FUCKING MORE.
Soon after that I went to AA. I haven't picked up for 2069 days.
AA got me sober but over the years I have built up an arsenal of techniques and methods I use in recovery. I am a true believer in using lots of different things to remain sober. Relying on just one thing, in my mind, is foolish.
I am a member of AA, I did an MBSR course in early recovery, learning meditation and mindfulness which has been invaluable, I take medication for my anxiety, I take probiotics too. I regularly exercise in the mornings. I go trekking as often as I can. Nature is a wonderful healer. I also help and sponsor people too. All of these activities complement and support each other.
My advice to newcomers is simple.
Take your time: It’s a marathon not a sprint. Recovery takes years not days. However you will see progress and you will get better. Every now and then look back and see how far you’ve come.
Don’t be a perfectionist: No one gets it 100% right. I’d say I get it right 60-70% of the time. And that’s OK.
Be authentic: Get to know the real you. And get to know your ego. They are two VERY different facets of all of our characters. My authentic voice is kind, calm, understanding. My ego is needy, critical, unforgiving.
I love this old proverb; There is a battle of two wolves inside us. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The wolf that wins is the one you feed.
I used to feed the evil wolf with drugs and alcohol. I now feed the good wolf thanks to sobriety.